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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Memories of Mandalay cruise....


On the boat ride, after visiting the Pagoda, we also stopped at the Siam Niramit Theater. 
 



This cultural extravaganza presents an idealized vision of ancient Siam using hi-tech special effects, lavish costumes, and a cast of hundreds with live animals, including elephants. 

It is a world-class stage show depicting Thailand’s historical and spiritual heritage.


The stage production lasted about 90 minutes and, in my opinion, was well worth seeing.
 

No photography in the theater was allowed.  The photos which I have are all outside the theater.

The Siam Niramit Theater included a Chinese buffet dinner, which I did not think was very good.   It offered the usual selection of Chinese dishes.
 
Photos belong to Phil Bianco. 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Jaro and his bike are now in New Zealand.....

 
 
 West of Whangarei.... 
 

There are some very nice and challenging bike rides in this region.

 
 The very fast downhill on the way back into town - Route #14 - is good fun..... 

 
 usually with the wind from the north-west adding to the speed.
 

 
 Note the mirror on the pole....

 
 
Photos belong to Jaro Franta. 


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Memories of Mandalay cruise....



During the boat ride, we stopped at Wat Arun Pagoda, named for Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn.  With its prominent prang (towers), the temple shows a strong Khmer influence.


The colorful broken ceramics that cover the prang are an ingenious form of 19th century recycling.  In those days, Chinese trading ships carried broken porcelain as ballast, which when offloaded, was used to decorate the prang.


The central prang has three symbolic levels. The base stands for Traiphum, all realms of existence in the Buddhist universe; the middle section represents the Tavatimsa, where all desires are gratified; and the top denotes Devaphum, six heavens within seven reals of happiness. The steep and narrow stairs up the central prang represents the difficulties humans face when trying to attain a higher level of enlightenment. They lead up to a narrow terrace that offers a sweeping view.


Tucked away in small coves on the second level of the central prang are kinnari, mythical creatures that are half-bird, half-woman.



Representing the four great seas, these smaller prang are also decorated with colorful ceramics. Each prang, supported by demons and monkeys, has a niche with a statute of Phra Pai, God of Wind, on a white horse. Between each of the four corner prang is an elaborately decorated mondop (altar).  Each holds a Buddha statute at key stages of their life—birth (north), meditation (east), preaching first sermon (south), and entering Nirvana (west).


 
 
Photos belong to Phil Bianco.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Jaro and his bike are now in New Zealand.....

 Raumanga stream park.....


This beautiful little park is in the suburbs of Whangarei, about 15 minutes walk from my new home.


The suburb is named Raumanga, and is located south-west of Whangarei city center. 


It also has a nice paved path that I frequently use to go to the city or back..... 

 
thereby avoiding the heavy traffic on highway #1, the main highway in northern New Zealand.



 Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Jaro and his bike are now in New Zealand.....

 
Mt Parihaka - Whangarei belvedere  

This is the equivalent of Mt. Royal in Montreal.  From various perspectives in the surroundings, the mountain looks about the same height as Mt. Royal but is not as wide, so the belvedere at the top is a much smaller place.


The new drawbridge can be seen at left, and if you look carefully, the new footbridge is just off-center, also to the left.


Biking to the top seems tougher than "The Hood" on Mt. Royal - perhaps because the start is at sea level, whereas in Montreal, one starts climbing at maybe 60m.


 Stairs from the parking lot to the monument and lookout....

 

"No bikes" refers to the trails that go on from here.....

 
 
 Photos belong to Jaro Franta.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Jaro and his bike are now in New Zealand.....

Nissan Travella

My apartment is in Raumanga, on the south-west side of Whangarei.  It is the whole top floor plus a storage room on the lower floor.  It has three bedrooms, but of course, I only use one of them.  There are four smaller apartments on the ground floor below mine.

 
It is unfurnished, except for an old table and a couple of chairs.  I bought my sleeping bag and inflatable mattress.

I only had the car from the 23rd to 27th.  It was supposed to be returned by 10am on the 28th, but that didn't seem practical to me, so I returned it a day early at around noon.  The car was $17/day, but  with the insurance, it came to almost double that ("Better safe than sorry").   Driving was okay, especially away from the heavy traffic in Auckland.


The bus ride back from Aukland was quite nice - the bus takes little detours off the main highway into nearby towns. It was about two and a half hours, as I recall.


The apartment is NZ$275/wk, which comes to about Can$243/wk.  Looking at local newspaper ads and articles about real estate prices, I believe that I am getting a reasonable deal - at or slightly below average prices in the region for this sized apartment (the other one offered was too small - just a "bedsit").


Photos belong to Jaro Franta.